Confused by Apparent Changes in Your Aging Parent?
Sadly, there comes a time in most senior‘s lives when they become unable to drive safely, or can no longer be the primary caregiver for their beloved. On the surface, these problems may seem easier to handle than those discussed in previous articles, but taking away your aging parent‘s ability to drive, or care for their furry companions, can be a very daunting and stressful task.
Family caregivers may feel that their senior loved ones can get around using public transportation or taxi’s when going from place to place. However, the implementation of such solutions are seldom as simple as they first appear. Your senior loved one may become very upset when forced to give up their driving privileges, as it takes away a sense of independence and freedom in their lives. As well, their pride can be deeply impacted by now having to rely on others to get from one place to another.
Family caregivers may also opt to find another home for a senior’s pet in order to simplify the lives of their loved ones. It can be a real struggle to have your senior loved one voluntarily relinquish their license. As well, seniors can become extremely close to their pets and even refer to them as their furry children. Separating a senior from their beloved pet can have dire consequences. A senior may become depressed, feel lonely, and become more withdrawn from incurring such a loss. Thankfully, there are other solutions to help seniors to keep their furry companion.
What to do when it’s time for your senior loved one to turn in their car keys?
In Desperate Need of a Back Seat Driver
The major of safety concern facing many family caregivers today is deciding whether or not to allow their senior loved one to drive. If your loved senior is experiencing difficulty driving safely, have their overall health, eyesight, and hearing checked to see if this is the cause of any problems on the road.
There may come a time when your family member is simply not able to drive safely anymore. Broaching this issue with your loved one is a particularly sensitive matter. Many seniors are resistant to giving up the privilege to drive, as it greatly impacts their level of independence. According to the Savvy Caregiver, an educational organization for persons with dementia and their families, family caregivers should ask themselves one key question. Are they willing to let their loved one drive them or their children from one location to another? If the answer is no, then your loved one should not be driving at all anymore.
What if Your Aging Parent is Unable to Drive?
If your loved one is no longer able to drive, then it may beneficial to arrange alternate means of transport for them. Some alternate means of transportation include:
- Carpools with family and friends
- Private transportation services
- Relocation to an area with good access to public transit
If your loved one continues to be resistant to these changes and insists on driving, then you may have to take away the car keys or car. While this option may seem cruel or extreme, you have to put the safety of your loved one and the general public first. Sometimes, particularly with dementia, the individual loses the ability to reason and use appropriate judgment. Such individuals may be resistant to change as they lack complete insight into their problems.
Initiating the discussion with your loved one regarding their inability to drive can be incredibly difficult. It is preferable that you have an objective third party, such as a doctor, or close family friend present when you have this important discussion. Senior loved ones may be dismissive of advice that comes from their adult children as they continue to view them as adolescent children. Moreover, it can impact their sense of pride, and they may feel a loss of power or control by following their children’s directions or advice. As the parent/child dynamic changes, seniors may react with anger or frustration, further harming the familial relationship. Harmony suggests that you have a doctor assess your loved one and make their recommendations based on your loved ones ability. Having a doctor make this decision spares family members from the senior loved ones direct anger, resentment, and blame.
Helping Your Aging Parent With Mobility
Harmony Caregiving is very cognizant of how difficult it can be to remove your elderly loved one’s access to a vehicle. To this end, Harmony can help you and your senior loved one in the following ways:
- Harmony can offer advice as to how to discuss and handle the issue of not driving with your loved one
- Harmony can provide safe, comfortable, and convenient transport for your loved ones (including those with physical mobility difficulties)
- If needed, Harmony Caregivers can also monitor, assist, accompany, and provide companionship to your senior loved one when traveling, doing errands, or going for medical appointments
Dog and Cat Solutions for your Senior’s Fur Babies
Woof Woof, “I Need a Walk Meow”
Seniors may have pets that depend on them for daily care. Having a pet can be extremely beneficial for a senior’s emotional, mental, social, and physical well being. However, as seniors age, it can become more and more stressful to take care of a dependent animal. Physically, they may not have the strength or energy to provide the animal with walks, or to bathe or feed them regularly. Mentally they may no longer have the energy or capacity to take care of their loved pet, as is the case with dementia. As well, owning a pet can lead to financial struggles, as animals need to visit veterinarians regularly to maintain their health. Seniors can become very close to their pets and regard them as their immediate family. Family members can assist seniors who struggle to keep a pet by doing the following:
- Taking the pet for daily walks
- Bathe the animal periodically or take the animal for grooming services
- Provide daily reminders to your loved one to feed their pet or visit the home daily and feed the pet yourself
- Purchase an automatic/timed feeder so the animal receives food on a regular schedule
- Contact your loved one at least once a day to check on the status of the pet
- Family members can spend more time with the family pet so that the pet can adjust to them in case the senior needs to move or is away for a prolonged time
- In extreme cases, it may be helpful to adopt the pet and take care of them while also ensuring that your loved one has consistent and regular contact with the animal
Can a Professional Senior Caregiver Help My Aging Parent?
It may also be beneficial to all involved to have a professional Caregiver visit the home on a daily basis to help the senior with their daily tasks, including pet care. Even a couple of hours a day can prove helpful to restore this relationship. At Harmony Caregiving, our Caregivers can assist with pet care with the following services:
- Caregivers can bathe your senior loved one’s pet on a regular basis
- They can feed them at scheduled times of the day
- Caregivers can assist your senior loved one by accompanying pets during veterinary appointments and pet grooming appointments
- Caregivers can take your loved one and their pets for scheduled walks and outings. If the senior is unable to leave the home, the Caregiver can walk the pet on their own
- Caregivers can monitor your senior loved one with their pet to prevent any mishaps, particularly in cases involving dementia
- Caregivers can take care of the house and pets when the senior is away at hospital or on a vacation
In previous articles we have reviewed many safety concerns involving seniors as they age. The issues examined involve keeping seniors safe as they move around, washroom assistance, and safety concerns inside and outside the home. As well, we covered home cleaning and home maintenance concerns. In our third article we reviewed safety issues related to medication and medical equipment management, communication concerns, and safety related to food and meal preparation. This article outlined safety concerns related to transportation and pet care.
Based on the senior involved, these safety concerns can be large in scope and have many dimensions. One can see that ensuring a senior’s safety in the home and outside at all times can be exhausting for any family caregiver to take on by themselves. For these reasons, it can be crucial for family caregivers to learn more about and enlist outside supports or programs within the community. As well, as your senior loved one’s safety needs grow, investing in home care services, such as those offered by Harmony Caregiving, can help keep them secure and healthy today so that they can continue to spend many tomorrows in their home for years to come.
Want to Learn More?
The safety concerns covered in this article and previous articles can be even more challenging when caring for a senior loved one with dementia. Please stay tuned for our next article, where issues related to mail correspondence, paying bills on time, inappropriate dressing, and wandering away behaviors are examined in greater detail.
Additional helpful resources can be found at the www.alz.org and www.learnnottofall.com. Please call Harmony’s Educator, Gizelle Talavia B.Ed., B.A., MASP; should you have any additional questions regarding the articles or your loved one, contact our office at 780-328-3917. You can also contact our office to learn more about how our Caregivers can help with the many diverse needs of your aging parents.